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One Cobble at a Time

My Self Publishing Experience Thus Far

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

My Self Publishing Experience Thus Far

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responsible woman

I wrote myself a royalty check last week. It is the first time I have ever done so. With the creation of Cobble Stones, and Hold on to Your Horses finally being profitable, I realized that it is time for the publishing company I run to be paying me as a writer. So I did the spread sheet, calculated the numbers for last quarter, then wrote the check and signed it. Right afterward, I flipped it over and signed the back so I can deposit it. Before I tell you how much money, let me tell you a couple more things.

Hold on to Your Horses took me a month to write. Granted, I probably only worked for about 10 hours of that month, but during that month I wrote little else. Finding an artist to work with used up at least 30 work hours. Back and forth with the artist took 40 work hours over three months. Layout and design took at least 40 hours, this includes the hours I spent curled into a ball crying because I was sure that I’d completely ruined the project and would never be able to make it work right. I had to wait three months to get the books. Then I took the books with me to every convention I attended. I talked about them to customers over dealer’s room tables. I did that over and over again for four years. I talked about Hold Horses on the internet. I did interviews on local television, radio, podcast, and the internet. Howard blogged about the book to all his readers. The project finally broke even financially last year. It has now paid my artist a fair rate and paid for printing costs. My royalty check for this month, the first money I’ve ever made on the project, was $15.

Cobble Stones is newer. It took me 20-30 hours to edit, layout, and create. I paid someone to help me put it into kindle and ePub formats. I spent at least 30 hours making the cover through trial and lots of error. I don’t know how many hours went into the original essays. I haven’t spent much time marketing it yet. The release got swamped by the Sharp End of the Stick pre-order. It was more a kick-this-thing-out-the-door-to-fend-for-itself than a celebratory release. I find it amusing that I co-own the publishing company, but my book got sidelined by a big money maker. There is a lot more work I can do to promote this book, but the truth is that my profit margins on it are very slim because it is a Print on Demand book. It will never make very much money. My total royalty on this book is $9.

I give all these numbers because people considering self-publishing should know. It eats a lot of time and usually does not pay a lot of money. I’m not sorry I did the projects. I continue to hope that they will earn more in the future, but they have not even begun to pay me back for the financial value of my time. Emotionally both projects are paid in full and then some. Except, perhaps, in the moment when I hold a $24 check and think “that’s it?”

The Schlock books are also self-published. They support our family as well as allow us to hire a colorist and an occasional shipping assistant. Neither Howard nor I has been able to leverage the fervent Schlock audience into sales for my books. The works are too different. My writing has to find its own audience, and I’m working on that slowly. I’m treating this first $24 check as a promise to myself. It is a starting point from whence I can grow. It certainly beats the zero dollars I was getting before. Self publishing is a long game, I need to be willing to keep working at it for years to come.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

  • Congratulations

    Congrats on breaking even and a little bit more. You do so much in so many areas. Here's to future books and finding your audience!

    As Kermit the Frog says "YAAAAAAYYYYY!"

  • A very educational, insightful and "from the heart", post.

    Good for you!

  • Is this the first time you've been paid (as an author, not a publisher) for your writing? I know you've had stories in an anthology or two, but I don't know what the terms were there.

    Whether the first of your career or just the first for a project, that first earnings check is always a nice milestone. Congratulations!

    (I fondly remember the one time I was actually paid for my art - it was some work-for-hire for a friend who needed illustrated teaching materials for his ESL business. The money wasn't much, but the "I'm a professional artist!" feeling was the real reward. Sadly, I haven't kept it up as a sideline career.)
    • This is the first time that my publishing company (Tayler Corporation) has paid me. I've also been paid for a couple of anthologies and one presentation. Most of the payments have been nominal.
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